“One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion
is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.”
Malcolm S. Forbes
Modern technology and action-oriented procedures demand a shift to a minimalist version of the all-too often wordy but ineffectual minutes, bringing functionality and efficiency to a new level. From traditional boardroom set-ups, meetings can now be held anywhere. In fact, virtual meetings enabled by web conferencing technology are fast becoming mainstreamed with reasonably-priced providers such as Webex, Go To Meeting and Zoho.
What has changed through the years that impacted our way of doing things?
• Real time information and practical eradication of geographical barriers brought about by connectivity,
• project-based thinking and
• trend for team-based decision making necessitated the change from the conventional mode.
The web has revolutionized communication speed, reach and interactivity enabling us to get in touch with attendees on the fly. Good-bye to tedious snail mail that can land on a receptionist’s desk unattended, wallowing under tons of other paperwork.
Today, we have the privilege of communicating securely our agenda and crucial attachments (for informed decisions) directly through email, cellular phones or facilitated by Web 2.0. Unlike in the past, we get appropriate feedback fast allowing us to make key changes before the meeting itself. Computers not only give us access to timely data; wired or wireless, laptop, handheld or PC, computers allow us to ‘template’ what we do frequently. This ready-made pattern, already containing the essentials of our final report is our key to successfully creating accurate minutes that are NOT TRANSCRIPTS but a superb instrument that goes beyond documentation. Your minutes become an intelligent reference for management policy, decisions and actions.
Writing minutes is now considered an essential executive skill whose importance depends on two other things:
• Agenda and the
• Conduct and content of the Meeting itself.
Without clear objectives written in the agenda and focus on action plans and decisions during the meeting, even the most accurately
written record will not be of much use and importance. Before going forward in this course full of strategies and practical, experiential tips take a moment and think about this ‘KEY’ I share with you today. If you take nothing else away with you today, take this understanding:
“Minutes are what is
NOT what is said.”
DAVID JULIAN PRICE, CSP
Listen to or Download AudioTrack 7:
Whether you are chairing/facilitating the meeting, taking the minutes, presenting a proposal, taking an active role as a decision-maker or implementer, there is common desire for meetings to be interesting, stress-free, short and above all, productive. Well run is certainly, well done!
Meetings held for whatever reason, should create a positive atmosphere to encourage open, professional interaction that meets one or several needs or agenda. Meetings structured or free-flowing, corporate or informal should be documented objectively and accurately with an eye to creating action plans.
There are four reasons to meet:
- To make decisions
- To share information
- Generate ideas
- To motivate
Bear in mind that every meeting is a SALES pitch; an avenue to communicate your best ideas before a body that can help you strategize – affirming your best points and augmenting your weaknesses. Whatever your role is, keep your best foot forward!
There are two types of meetings:
- Formal – where motions are put, seconded and votes are taken
There are three types of roles:
- Leader – Chair, Chairman, Chairperson, Facilitator
- Minute Taker
- The Participants
Properly run meetings answer the very needs or agenda for which the meeting was specifically called for and is a springboard for fresh ideas and solutions. The operative word is ‘specifically’ because any uncontrolled meeting that goes ‘every which way but loose’ bore the participants and muddle the issues.
Badly run meetings waste time, de-motivate and discourage future participation from participants. At its worst, it solves nothing, generates conflict and wastes time, money and resources. A loss because the minutes would have reflected a win-win scenario had focus and discipline been adhered to.
Two Important Suggestions:
- Call yourself the minute taker – not the “secretary”.
Secretary has so many meanings, the worst of which is “general dog’s body”.
The term “minute taker” has only one interpretation.
It conveys more accurately what you are there to do!
- See yourself as the “Manager” of the meeting.
You do all the organising so you are the “manager” of the meeting – not the “boss”.
Module 1 B: Listen to or Download Audio Track 1
Listen to or Download Audio Track 14
Module 1 C: Worksheet
- What is your most common role during meetings?
- In your opinion, what are the success factors for productive and trouble-free meetings?
- Based on your general experience, what percentage of meetings had:
Well prepared Agenda
Previous emailed or sent reference documents
for study at least 3 days before the meeting
Engaging, interesting and participative
4. If you were to leave with just one thought regarding minutes,
what would it be?